Most of the land in Population Zero resembles a huge dried-up reef, which is being hit by the spacecrafts of especially frivolous survivalists. The price we paid for a 500 light-years trip is told in a small review.
Developer: Enplex Games LLC
Publisher: Enplex Games LLC
Date of release: May 5, 2020
We were surprised to see the sky when technology, which completely rewrites human life, collapsed from there by someone’s incomprehensible will. But the new energy source only exacerbated the old problems of the earth.
The scale of the ecological catastrophe that eventually brought our planet to our doorstep was in the billions of human lives. The unprecedented cataclysms, food crisis and overpopulation have turned our neon paradise into a clockwork bomb.
The colonization initiative proposed by a mega-corporation was supported by almost everyone. And we took another look at the sky, but with hope – at the end of the point of no return, a planet with an ecosystem fully fit for a new life was hiding.
Our ark “Artemis” arrived at Kelper according to the estimated time, but at the last moment something went wrong. Once in orbit of the planet, the ship collapsed in a fiery downpour, and with it thousands of capsules with colonists sleeping inside.
Players come to their senses in one of the clefts in the so-called savannah area. A short excursion into the basic mechanics of Kraft and control, the first acquaintance with the locals, and here – we are already flying towards adventure, breaking our legs on the cliffs.
From the very beginning, the game hints that the event will be fun, but yawning is impossible – players crawl into a wonderful world full of incomprehensible creatures and bizarre vegetation, and on the horizon is a huge skeleton of the ship, converted into the main shelter for newcomers.
Getting to the hub and surviving is already a feat. We have at our disposal a modest killing stick and knowledge of basics, such as making a fire for cooking. And if the food is simpler, the ponds are toxic, boiling here will not get off, you have to look for sources of clean water, collect full flasks and make sure that it does not suddenly run out.
On the spot, we’ll find out that Kepler has a release once a week. The only way to survive it is to hide in the capsule, but first we have to set up a shelter and supply power. That’s how we get the basic task chain, which we only have seven real days to complete.
At the end of this period, progress will be reset, players will be awarded, and their accounts will be given a well-deserved experience. Ten levels are available for pumping, each with new opportunities. Thus, the second level will have access to PvP rialm, and further – the opportunity to craft their points of revival, build houses, participate in other stories.
Unlike other survivalists, you will not be able to build randomly on Kelper. Special areas with picturesque views are designated for the houses, allowing players to enjoy the pristine landscapes of the planet, not cluttered with lush development.
The hub is a vast space formed from the ship’s remains. It’s not customary to swing a weapon here. There is a small warehouse, as well as several machines, most of which can not be used until you bring a set of certain resources.
Here a free fire burns in eternal flames, clear water beats the key, and most importantly – in the hub players are not hungry and thirsty, so you can relax to explore the contents of pockets and plan further action.
For the battles and Kraft you will not get any additional experience, but each time you discover something new, exploring territories and running errands, you get points for research and knowledge of botany, geology, geodesy or zoology. The number of the latter is a condition for progress on the subject line.
Very entertaining is the system of perks, which are rolled randomly while you are engaged in everyday affairs. For example, you fight a quar with an axe, and suddenly learn a special technique for this weapon. If you’ve been without water for a long time, there’s a chance to get a perk to increase your thirst scale and so on.
Get the ability – it’s only part of the problem, you need to unlock the corresponding slot under it and there as if “remember”. Otherwise, not only will the skill not work, but it will be lost in death.
The fight gives classic RPGs with stamina management: jerks in different directions, combos, jump attacks, enhanced strikes. Enemies are also not shields – each has its own behavior in combat, will have to study the habits of individual species. Most enemies in the game will not be able to call to death with the left mouse button.
There are four types of weapons available: swords, axes, spears, and hammers. Each has its own combos and animations, and most importantly – unique perks that fully unleash their potential. You can carry two guns in fast slots, but you can’t use them simultaneously. All the elements of armor, weapons, bags and even the tool visually displayed on the character.
If you die, go to the respiratory point in the so-called cocoon. With each death, it will gradually change your DNA. At total loss of humanity, the character in the night will turn to Voyda – a monster with superhuman strength and speed.
For PvE rhylm transformation into a monster will mean defeat, but in the PvP world players control Voyda and can attack other colonists, however, they have only one life until the end of the session.
Rich in beauty world is divided into several picturesque regions. You start in a relatively safe savannah, followed by the arid steppes and red mosses, where there are much more powerful creatures, and then the level of hardcore begins to seriously off-scale.
In the deserts, for example, where you will soon be sent as part of the main quest, the arthropods, similar to giant trilobites, are undivided. You step on the sands, and you’ll be dead in seconds. The creatures hunt collectively, smell the prey over a workbench and hang the bleeding. The first aid kit will help, but here’s a problem – the ingredient for them grows all in the same desert.
Further north is the jungle, which is inhabited by the most dangerous scythopods, in the swamp nest of local nomads, hunting to valuable resources and so on. The further away from home, the more painful it becomes to live. And to penetrate into a number of regions it is necessary to observe obligatory conditions.
Thus, in mushroom thickets the air is toxic, without a mask you will die in less than a minute; in the desert it is very hot, you need something to cover your head and cool your body; in the anomalous lands opposite – there is an unnatural cold, and in the swamps poisonous water – willing to move on the bumps.
Achieving locations in Population Zero is partly reminiscent of exploring the world in Subnautica, when you intuitively look into the depths of the depression you are interested in and as a reward you get a side quests or a lorny hint.
Everything here is exhausted with caves, faults, numerous jam-puzzles on vines and mountain ridges. There is plenty of space on Kelper waiting for the inquisitive explorer, but there are also many empty corridors, at the end of which only an unfortunate dead end.
At the moment, survival is overwhelmed with problems, not so much in terms of optimization as in a number of mechanics. Jams and flights over invisible objects happen quite often, there are departures and paints.
Some things, I think, need to be rethought: the system for uniting players will not be superfluous; the loot falling out of killed monsters, it would be better to make private; non-game characters are not very sociable; it’s impossible to fix the equipment and so on.
There are also controversial developments, where it’s generally clear what the developers meant, but in my opinion, the idea wasn’t twisted. For example, there is a catastrophically small amount of storage space and we have to build boxes, but we can only put them some distance from the hub. As a result, there are chests of players growing around the safe zone, who have to run from the chests to the machines and back.
Perhaps you should also think about the balance – in some battles on the same reflex, unfortunately, can not be taken out, and swinging weapons, absorbing the stock of medical kits – not cool.
Kepler is disturbed by his wildness and challenges everyone who dares to step on his land, but rewards with a hundredfold for patience and fortitude. He is beautiful, unsteady, full of life and stories, many of which will be written to us colonists.
With a little more attention, support and patience, Population Zero will stand in line with other modern survivalists, in no way inferior to them, and perhaps even superior in something.